What is mountaineering for beginners?
Picture yourself at the summit of one of the ‘eight-thousanders,’ from your elevated view, thousands of miles of nature’s stunning beauty spread.
Below you lies the snow’s white lush, beautifully spread out, that you’ll probably wish that moment never ends. Mind-blowing, right? You, standing gallantly, 8,000 feet above sea level.
Only a handful of people can truly attest to the emotions that rush through them at the peak of the eight-thousanders. However, you can become a part of those few.
To achieve that, you have to become a mountaineer, a fancy word for those who enjoy mountain climbing thrills.
How To Get Into Mountaineering For Beginners
The journey from being oblivious to mountain climbing to becoming one of the best mountaineers, even if you don’t get to reach the summit of an eight-thousander, can be challenging but achievable.
Reviewed below are the necessary steps to get into mountaineering for beginners, or we can put it as how to become a mountain climber.
1. Take a Mountaineering Class/Hire a Mountaineering Guide
For individuals new to the exciting world of mountaineering, their first exploration of this world should be done at the behest of an experienced mountain climber—an excellent option for an introduction to mountaineering.
Mountain climbing class equips climbers with several necessary skills to be mastered before beginning the challenging mountain climbing task. Hiring a mountaineering guide can be an acceptable alternative to mountaineering classes, but they tend to be expensive.
Whether you opt for a mountaineering guide or a mountaineering class, beginners to mountain climbing should do well to master these skills;
a) Walking with a Crampon
With several mountains covered in ice and glaciers, the best way to ascend them has to deal with the use of crampons. Mastering this skill is essential to mountain climbing, as it provides traction.
Beginner mountaineers should do well to try out the various types of crampons and the different models of attachment to see which best suits them.
b) Using an Ice Axe
For routes where crampons are needed, an ice axe would also be required. Understanding how to use an ice axe in arresting falls can be life-saving; hence, the need for proper knowledge on the use of an ice axe.
Beginner climbers should do well to use the various types of ice axe, to see which best suits them.
c) Roped Glacier Travel
In the course of ascending individual mountains with snows, climbers adopt roped Glacier travel in other to stay together. Beginners to mountain climber have to be well trained in this before their maiden mountaineering expeditions.
This life-saving skill has to be mastered with other climbers. So it’s best learned in a mountain climbing class.
In this class, beginner climbers have to be conscious of rope management and their fellow climbers to self-arrest in the event of a fall. This skill has to be mastered adequately as most mountain terrains require roped glacier travel.
A must-have skill, the need for this skill is especially needed when ascending mountains with ice during summer. Due to the melting ice, crevasses and whiteouts are formed.
During such a period, straight forward roped glacier travel becomes impossible, so climbers resort to navigating alternative routes. Navigating these routes is a skill that has to be mastered before a mountaineering expedition.
e) Crevasse Rescue
The presence of several crevasses presents a challenge to most climbers. Due to the inability to tell stable glaciers from cracked glaciers, climber’s fall into crevasses.
When this occurs, fellow climbers have to rescue the fallen climber with a z-pulley and a snow anchor. Beginners to mountain climbing have to master this skill. Learn more crevasse rescue on REI.
Mountain Climbing has a reputation for punishing climbers who have come ill-prepared. As a result, mountain climbers often prepare themselves mentally and physically before any mountaineering expedition.
a) Physical Preparation
Mountain climbing can be very exhausting and requires a level of endurance. To be prepared for this challenge, months before any mountain climbing expeditions, climbers engage in various exercises to build strength and cardiovascular endurance.
These exercises can be as simple as running, swimming, and staircase climbing. These activities will build leg muscles and extend muscle tolerance. Cardiovascular endurance also has to be built.
Climbers have to learn how to use oxygen tanks and how to manage the tank effectively. This is because most mountain summits are at an altitude where there’s a limited supply of oxygen.
Beginner climbers also have to learn about altitude sickness and the various ways to manage this sickness.
b) Mental Preparation
The challenges encountered during mountain climbing can be so tiring that climbers will be tempted to abort their mission. Strict mental strength often propels climbers to continue the ascent despite the difficulties.
To prepare for these formidable challenges, including chilling weather, sore muscles, and injuries, climbers have to engage in activities that build their mental strength. Challenging exercises, such as weight lifting, is the right choice.
Climbers would have to lift heavy weights progressively in the order of their weights for a considerable period, without giving in to the urge to rest. Climbers can also try running a long distance without stopping.
This will kill two birds with one stone, as climbers would build mental strength and physical strength.
3. Get your Gears
This step is one of the most critical steps in mountain climbing. Even with the right skills and preparation, the absence of necessary gears can make a mountain climbing expedition disastrous.
It’s best to go shopping for gears with an advanced mountain climber. An advanced mountain climber would help pick the right gears and the gears with the best quality.
4. Pick your Climbing Route
The final step to beginning your first mountain climbing expedition is choosing the mountain to be ascended. With several mountains scattered across every continent globally, beginner climbers may have a hard time choosing their first mountain climbing route.
Recruiting your climbing instructors’ assistance and a mountain climbing guide book can help you make a great choice. Dealing with the locals in the mountains you plan to ascend can also help you decide.
Climbers should do well to conduct extensive research on routes they plan to ascend, as specific routes require permits. It’s also a good idea to choose the climbing to be done, based on how long you wish to climb.
Whatever route you choose, ensure safety measures are followed.
We wish you a successful first ascent. Please let us know your thoughts on our guide on mountaineering for beginners in the comments section below.